Imagine the headache if there was no soft plastic to recycle?

Imagine the headache if there was no soft plastic to recycle?


The Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme run by the Packaging Forum is stockpiling all the soft plastic collected from their drop off points across New Zealand. That’s because their recycling partner in Australia has been overwhelmed with the volume. You can’t help but feel for those involved having to scramble to find an alternative recycler.

According to the RNZ article, there is a New Zealand based recycler lined up and an announcement will be made soon. However, with further expansion of the scheme planned and a predicted increase in volume from 365 tonnes collected last year to over 600 tonnes this year, I think this as a very short term, band-aid, solution.

The simple fact remains, there is very little value in recycling soft plastic. And due to the chemistry, it can only be recycled a minimal number of times (as is the case with all recyclable plastics). Further to this, it is very common that the products made from the recycled plastic cannot be recycled themselves. Recycling is simply delaying the inevitable. All plastic will eventually end up in a landfill, the open environment, or be incinerated.

Meanwhile, the global production of plastic rises and rises. According to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, that has done extensive research as part of their New Plastics Economy initiative, worldwide we produced “311 million tonnes in 2014, and is expected to double again over the next 20 years”.

Add to that their staggering finding that “95% of plastic packaging material value, or USD 80–120 billion annually, is lost to the economy after a short first use”. Madness!

Knowing what we do about the end of life options for plastic and the economic and environmental costs incurred, don’t we have a duty to stop the flow of new plastic?

One of the biggest and easiest solutions, for at least reducing the flow of new plastics, is to engage and inspire individuals, families, sports teams, communities and businesses to be extremely mindful of their consumption of single-use plastics, then help them embark on a journey of reducing their plastic waste.

The quicker we all go on the plastic reduction journey and the more that do it, the easier and more impactful it will be for everyone.

Speaking from experience – reducing your plastic waste is a bumpy journey. A hard journey. A frustrating and at times demoralising journey. But it’s also a journey full of learning and mindfulness. So let’s make that journey as simple, inclusive, and as quick as possible for everyone.

This is exactly the role “Bags Not” is playing.

Plastic shopping bags were an obvious place to start, but with the plastic bag as our poster child we will spread our focus wider to help New Zealanders drastically reduce their contributions of other plastic products to the plastic pollution crisis.

For many that may sound confronting and overwhelming. But for us, it is full of opportunity and reward. And it’s the right thing to do.

Remember, this problem is global. If New Zealand and New Zealand businesses can create solutions here, there is a big old market out there ready to adopt them.

But can the solutions be created by just one or two businesses? And if so, will they be quick enough? Or could we bring businesses together to collaborate on the solutions, share the wins, and make a really demonstrable impact?

We’ve had an amazing journey to date and as we continue to see the rising need for our tips, tricks, advice, support and collective learning we would love to see more businesses join us and help us expand the work we are doing, while helping to take the pressure off the Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme.


Nick Morrison

Co-Founder Bags Not


Time to say “Bags Not” to all single-use plastics

Time to say “Bags Not” to all single-use plastics

Take a bow folks, pat yourselves on the back, maybe even high five your neighbour. Thanks to the efforts and energy of thousands of Kiwis like you, the NZ Government has done the right thing and made a stand against single-use plastic bags. It’s great news and we all deserve to celebrate.

But don’t forget, when we all get over our plastic bag ban celebratory hangovers, there’s still plenty to do.

Next up, there’s a consultation process to decide exactly what shape, size, thickness and style of plastic bags will be banned and when. Get involved and have your say here.

You’ve just proven what a difference you can make, this is a real step forward. Keep checking in with us to find out how you can continue to say “Bags Not” to all the other unnecessary plastics in your life.

This is a great start, but it’s just the beginning. With momentum on our side, let’s move full steam ahead towards a New Zealand that’s free from all single-use plastics!

Local hero – Baskets of knowledge

Local hero – Baskets of knowledge

For over a decade, Julie Burns-Nevin has been exploring the endless possibilities and creative opportunities of raranga – flax weaving. In the time-honoured tradition of early Māori whose holistic values and permaculture lifestyle inspire her, Julie has been working with harakeke, native New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax) – an extremely versatile and abundant natural fibre.

She hosts regular workshops in the Coromandel near Whitianga where she lives. These cover how to plait and weave flax according to the traditional guiding principals, tikanga, that surround this artistic process. Check out some of the flax kete she’s been making with her students on her Facebook page.


Kete Weaving
Proud students with their mahi after a 4 hour class.
Kete Bags
An assortment of kete and prepared harakeke.


Julie is mindful of her footprint here on Earth and hopes her legacy will be one that creates a positive ripple effect. She leads by example and lives her life in the true spirit of a kaitiaki – a caretaker of the precious place we all share. She lives in close harmony with the the environment and shares her knowledge about living in a more natural, simple and dynamic way with others.

Her approach to life is captured in the wise words of this whakatauki –Māori proverb: Mā o tatou kete o te matauranga me te whakaaro nui, ka taea e tatou ngāwhiri te ara o te tumanako moo te wā pai. This translates as follows: Together, with our baskets of knowledge and wisdom we can weave a pathway of hope for a wholesome future.

By taking traditions from the past to help create modern solutions, you’re certainly inspiring us Julie.

Local heroes – Wrapt

Local heroes – Wrapt

Time to shine a little light on another local hero community, Cromwell. When you’re blessed with such a spectacular natural landscape, the last thing that locals wanted to see was plastic bags littering the lake and blowing into the trees.

That’s how Keep It Green Cromwell came into being. They kicked off by asking for volunteers and old fabric so they could set up a sewing bee to produce reusable bags as an alternative to single-use plastic bags. They’ve also produced custom-made jute bags with their own logo on them.

To raise funds to help them make more reusable bags, they’ve been selling the jute bags at local fetes. Cromwell’s local Paper Plus has also been a huge help by placing a donation box at their checkout counter, as well as selling the jute bags.

What’s up next for Keep It Green Cromwell? They’re working on getting rental car companies to include reusable bags in their vehicles so visitors to the district will use them instead of plastic bags when they stock up with groceries for their stay. Plus they’ve got their sights on disposable paper cups and smarter ways on how to reduce them too.

One of the biggest challenges for Keep It Green Cromwell has been getting enough volunteers to help. So if you live in the area and you’re keen to keep your beautiful part of NZ looking pristine, they’d welcome your support: